Movies Watched in January 2016 Part I

Everything I watched before I attended Noir City 14, which I’ll discuss next time:


Casablanca (1942) Michael Curtiz (6x)
Warner Blu-ray (1:42)

I could not think of a better film to kick off our Great Movies series at the library and the audience seemed to be in complete agreement. You can read more about my thoughts on the film and the maiden voyage of The Great Movies.



My Friend Irma (1949) George Marshall
Warner Archive, Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis Collection, Vol. 1 DVD (1:43)

My Friend Irma is notable as the first onscreen pairing of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, who would go on to star together in 17 films of varying quality. Although this one is far from their best, it is their first, and for that reason alone is worth watching. Friends Steve Laird (Martin, left) and Seymour (Lewis, right) are just barely keeping an orange juice stand going when small-time con artist Al (John Lund) hears Steve sing and begins to see dollar signs. Al’s ditzy girlfriend Irma (Marie Wilson), in the meantime, is trying to keep her roommate Jane (Diana Lynn, who sounds like June Foray as Rocky the Flying Squirrel) from sharing in all of Irma’s disasters, which are legion. There’s a love triangle between Jane, Steve, and Jane’s boss (Don DeFore), which is somewhat fun, but predictable. But we’re really here for Martin & Lewis, who don’t get enough screen time in this overlong comedy.



Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957) John Huston
20th Century Fox, The Robert Mitchum Collection DVD (1:46)

Previously discussed here


Ex Machina (2015) Alex Garland
Lionsgate DVD – library (1:48)

Ex Machina is one of those movies that I saw being praised on social media over and over and over. For quite awhile, you couldn’t turn around without bumping into this image of Alicia Vikander or one very much like it.

Initially I wasn’t that impressed with the film, thinking that – for all its technical achievements – it really didn’t break that much new ground. It has an obvious Stanley Kubrick/The Shining look, not so much in color as in tone and feel, but I did enjoy the possibilities suggested by the ultramodern house and the many shots of unspoiled nature outdoors (to say nothing of the many “natural” elements within the house). Without giving away too much, I wasn’t fooled for a second about Kyoko, one of the film’s secondary characters, and saw where much of the film was headed, yet I didn’t see the complete ending coming. I think my initial judgment of the film was probably a bit unfair and hope to visit this one again in a few months.



Pickpocket (1959) Robert Bresson
Hulu streaming (1:15)

The first film in my 2016 Blindspot series, discussed here


Fantômas (1913-1914) Louis Feuillade
Kino Lorber Blu-ray (5:37)

Previously discussed here


The Enemy Below (1957) Dick Powell
20th Century Fox, The Robert Mitchum Collection DVD (1:38)

Previously discussed here


Vertigo (1958) Alfred Hitchcock (9x)
Universal Studios, Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection (UK) Blu-ray (2:08)

I watched my favorite Hitchcock film once again in preparation for my San Francisco trip. I’ll be discussing this one more when I post about my Alfred Hitchcock San Francisco tour.



The Black Cat (1934) Edward G. Ulmer
Universal Studios, The Bela Lugosi Collection DVD (1:05)

The first pairing of Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff is one of the strangest horror movies ever, equal parts nightmare and surrealism. Lugosi plays Dr. Vitus Werdegast, a Hungarian psychiatrist who befriends young newlyweds Peter (David Manners) and Joan Alison (Julie Bishop) as they share a train compartment and later a bus ride through the Hungarian countryside. The bus crashes and Dr. Werdegast leads the couple to the home of an old friend, architect Hjalmar Poelzig (Karloff).

We soon learn that Werdegast is terrified of Poelzig’s pet black cat, but that’s just the beginning of several weird goings-on. The story (which has almost nothing to do with the Edgar Allan Poe short story of the same name) is weird, twisted, and often ridiculous, but Lugosi and Karloff together are absolute magic. They would star in six more films together, but this one may be the best.


(Photos: Play It Again, DanOld Movie TeamsVarietySan Francisco City GuidesCornell Cinema)

2 thoughts on “Movies Watched in January 2016 Part I

  1. Pingback: My Friend Irma Goes West (1950) Hal Walker | Journeys in Darkness and Light

  2. Pingback: Movies Watched in January 2016 Part II | Journeys in Darkness and Light

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